Softball Bears split doubleheader with Illinois State



The Missouri State softball team earned a double-header split with Illinois State Friday (March 21) afternoon in Missouri Valley Conference action at MSU Softball Field. The Bears (13-5 overall, 2-2 MVC) rallied from a two-run deficit to pick up a 3-2 win in the first game before the Redbirds (11-11 overall, 1-1 MVC) powered up for an 8-0 victory in the nightcap.


The Bears came back from a 2-0 hole in the first contest, plating the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth on freshman Tyler Porter’s infield single. After Jenna Schwark singled to start the inning, Brooke Kempker laid down a sacrifice bunt and Christa Gammon grounded back to the mound to advance the runner to third. Porter followed with a slow roller between the pitcher and second baseman and beat the throw to first to score Schwark with the go-ahead run.


Senior pitcher Melissa Porche registered yet another standout performance, turning in her seventh complete game in nine starts this season. In all, she struck out 14 Redbirds on the afternoon to improve to 7-3.


Illinois State jumped out to an early lead in the contest courtesy of a two-run homer by Casey Gorrell in the top of the second inning. Michelle Henderson was hit by a Porche delivery to lead off the frame and, with one out, Gorrell lined a shot over the right-center field fence to give the Redbirds the lead.


But that would be all the offense ISU would get, as Porche settled into a groove and allowed just three more hits the rest of the way, squashing the Redbirds’ final rally attempt in the seventh by fanning the last two hitters of the game. The Buena Park, Calif., native allowed only five hits and two walks on the day and struck out five of the final six batters to close the door on Illinois State.


MSU got a big lift from a pair of freshmen in the comeback. Porter went 3-for-4 on the day, including the key go-ahead hit in the sixth off ISU’s Amber Smith (4-5), and Ashley Knehans came through with a two-out, pinch-single to score Carrie Roberson with the tying run in the fifth. 


In the second game of the twinbill, Illinois State put on a power display that included three home runs en route to the 8-0, five-inning decision. Six of the Redbirds’ nine hits went for extra bases, starting with Katie Mathis’s RBI-triple to right field that scored the game’s first run in the top of the second inning. Kara Nelson followed with a run-scoring single to left to give the visitors the early 2-0 advantage.


Returning All-MVC first-teamer Jessie Buker added to the lead in the third with a two-out homer, and Kaprice Williams followed suit in the fourth with a towering drive over the left-center field fence to lead off the inning.


ISU tacked on four more runs in the fifth, highlighted by Tiffany Prager’s two-run homer to right following a double by Nelson to start the inning. Williams and Diciembre Vaca added RBI singles to cap the scoring.


Redbirds’ starter Rachel Smith (3-1) had little trouble with the Bears in the second game, allowing just two hits in completing the five-inning shutout.


Nelson, Buker and Williams each posted two-hit games to lead an Illinois State offense that recorded its first three-homer game in over two seasons.


MSU’s Lauren McGinley (4-1) shouldered her first loss of the season after allowing all eight runs.


The Bears and Redbirds will conclude their three-game series Saturday (March 22) with a 12 noon contest at MSU Softball Field.



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